Though they already had the Eastern Conference’s top seed in the postseason locked up, the Miami Heat still played their full rotation. With the playoffs a week away, the Heat players wanted to get one more game in. They faced a hungry Atlanta Hawks team looking to improve their play-in position. The Hawks competed with Miami throughout the entire evening. They hurt Miami on the boards and in the paint. In the end, however, the Heat pulled away for the victory. With the win, Miami moves to 53-28 for the season. Here are my takeaways from their win over Atlanta.
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Herro’s Passing and Defense
Everyone knows how much Tyler Herro has improved his scoring. The numbers speak for themselves, as he is averaging over 20 points a game. He has scored very well at all three levels of the court, and has arguably been Miami’s most improved player of the season. Additionally, he’s shown improvement in his passing game. The moment Herro stepped on the floor he threw two defenders. Most importantly, he was able to consistently pass out dimes from out of the double team, and that takes a lot of skill. Herro’s effort on the defensive end against the Hawks was impressive as well. There were multiple times where he rushed back on the defensive end and even stopped a score on the fast break. Herro finished the night with 15 points and nine rebounds.
Bam the Leading Man
Bam Adebayo was the Heat’s leading scorer on Friday. He played very well on the offensive end tonight. Herro’s improved game gets a lot of the attention, but Adebayo has also made some strides, as well. On most nights, Adebayo’s defender is going to have the advantage with their size. However, Adebayo also has his advantages with his quickness. He has the quickness to blow by his defender with baseline drives. He did just that multiple times throughout the night. Lately, he’s been showing some improvement with his inside game. While most would like to see him hit more jumpers, making major improvements with his inside game could be just as huge. Adebayo finished the night with 24 points and six rebounds.
Miami’s Defensive Versatility
Even without P.J. Tucker, Heat forward Markieff Morris still remains out of the rotation. Instead, Miami played Caleb Martin and Jimmy Butler at the power forward spot. Defensively, it allowed Miami to keep their versatility. Usually, the Heat would have Tucker guard the opposing team’s best guard. They did the same thing with Butler and Martin. Their point guard Kyle Lowry was often matched up against Danilo Gallinari. It also gives us a preview of what could come in the playoffs. However, it could be an issue against bigger teams in the postseason.
East Playoff Seeding
The watch for Miami’s first round opponent continues. And it won’t be resolved until a few days before the playoff opener. With the Brooklyn Nets’ win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Nets currently sit at the seventh spot in the standings, with Cleveland at No. 8. The Hawks sit behind the Cavaliers for the ninth spot. Currently, the Nets control their fate in the race for the seventh seed. All eyes will be on their final regular season game. If they win, they’ll be one win away from clinching the seventh seed in the playoffs.
Next up: The Heat play at the Orlando Magic on Sunday. Game tips off at 7pm EDT.
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